If you’ve ever been stuck on an airport tarmac for hours or contracted food poisoning from a buffet, you’re probably aware how irksome the pursuit of recompense can be. You have to call the responsible parties, wait hours on end for an agent, and then plead your case to generally apathetic ears. It’s an annoying process that, given the stress and time commitment involved, is often tempting to forgo. But a new startup, Service, aims to make matters simpler by taking things into its own hands. Literally.
Service essentially acts as a middleman between you and the business with which you have a standing dispute. Rather than, say, wait on hold with a company directly, you submit a brief summary of your complaint to Service via its website or iOS app. After you provide every relevant detail that comes to mind — e.g., dates, photos of a package broken in transit, airfare receipts, and confirmation emails — a Service specialist will take over, and you’ll be kept abreast your case’s progress via email and push notifications.
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Better yet? It’s free. Rather than charge users for the privilege of complaint handling, Service intends eventually to build customized, automated case resolution system businesses with which it’s partnered. Ideally, you’ll never have to pay a dime, and your next customer service experience will be better for it.
The concept’s apparently caught on. Service has formed direct relationships with companies like Uber and GoDaddy, and 25 percent of its more than 1,000 customers have used it to file more than one complaint. And in October of last year, Service closed a $3.1 million round of funding.
Service is harnessing that groundswell of support to launch Protect, a feature that automates complaint submission by parsing your messages. Link an email account and Protect will identify potential sources of complaints, like a flight itinerary or business receipts, and amend them with a handy quick-filing button.
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Protect, as an added benefit, monitors your email your flight delays and cancellations — if your plane has been grounded, it’ll let you know if you’re eligible for compensation. And Service said Protect will do more in the future, like track missed deliveries and instances of incorrect billing.
Protect is part of an update to the Service app on iOS. It will roll out to all users in the coming days.
Service’s focus is on slow but steady growth, right now — “We’re building software to scale,” Service chief Michael Schneider told TechCrunch — but it’s nothing if not ambitious. “We want to become a verb,” Schneider said.
If Service continues to work as well as advertised, that’s not an unrealistic proposition.